‘No cases of love jihad have been reported by any of the central agencies’.

 

New Delhi: Several states of the country are mulling about introducing legal provisions against “love jihad”. These states—Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Karnataka—supported this law after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced that his government is planning to bring a legislation to deal with it.

The UP Chief Minister cited the Allahabad High Court’s order which stated that conversion “just for the purpose of marriage” is unacceptable. The Opposition has accused Yogi Adityanath of polarisation after he promised a law to curb “love jihad”.

“Love jihad” is a terminology used by right-wing Hindutva groups to describe interfaith relationships between a Muslim man and a Hindu woman. Several BJP ministers have called this “behaviour” a social evil.

However, the Allahabad High Court order that was passed on 23 September, was with regard to a couple in which the man was a Hindu and the woman, who was formerly Muslim, had converted to Hinduism.

The court had dismissed the petition filed by the married couple seeking direction to others not to interfere in their married life and made the comments after finding that the girl had converted to Hinduism and a month later, married according to Hindu customs.

The order passed by Justice Mahesh Chandra Tripathi stated that keeping in view the facts and circumstances, “this court is not inclined to interfere in the matter under Article 226 of the Constitution of India”.

Consequently, the court said, “the writ petition is dismissed”.

The court also referred to the 2014 order in Noor Jahan Begum, alias Anjali Mishra, and Another versus the state of UP and others, along with connected cases decided by the same court on 16 December 2014, and observed that “conversion just for the purpose of marriage is unacceptable”.

Talk about a law against “love jihad” has gained momentum after the shocking case of the brutal murder of Nikita Tomar, a 21-year-old college student, in the name of love and religious conversion. Nikita Tomar was shot dead in Haryana’s Ballabhgarh by a man.

Meanwhile, the victim’s family has alleged that the man was pressuring her to convert to Islam in order to marry him. According to reports, some Hindu outfits have alleged that the woman’s murder is a case of “love jihad”.

Opposition leaders seem to be opposing this move. Congress leader and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi told The Sunday Guardian: “There is no formal policy decision by Congress but speaking personally, I believe coercion in any form of marriage should be stopped and regulated. Coercion is not limited to love jihad marriages or religion. So, why should we single out one sub-category or regulation? Coercion should be stopped on an identity-neutral, religion-neutral, and community neutral basis.”

Earlier this week, Congress MP Digvijaya Singh asked citizens not to “spread hatred in society”. He further added that “love and prosperity must prevail, not hatred. Everyone has their right to opt for preferable religion’.

On Thursday, Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said: “This love jihad has been there for some time and it is a social evil. A law is necessary—that has been the loud thinking of various sections of the society in all states.”

Interestingly, in February this year, Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy had said that no cases of “love jihad” have been reported by any of the central agencies, and the term is not defined under any existing law.

“The term ‘love jihad’ is not defined under the extant laws. No such case of ‘love jihad’ has been reported by any of the central agencies,” he had said in reply to a written question.

The minister had also said that two cases from Kerala involving inter-faith marriage have been probed by the National Investigation Agency.